Continued from: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8940.0
MS: Hey hey...watch it now. Argentina is a good team. I like them. By the way, any news of Egypt getting in the World Cup?
They are indeed a great team and they have tied Brazil in the qualifiers of South America. Players like Riquelme who can orchestrate the midfield and produce cunning passes to direct the offense are valuable to any team. But their star, Riquelme, can blow hot and cold. He sometimes comes up empty. There is of course other players like classy midfielder Luis Gonzalez, defender Ayala and Crispo, and the new Barcelona sensation Messi, but it seems to me that Peckerman (the coach) is still searching for the right blend. They got a humilitating loss from Brazil in Fifa Confederation Cup (4/1), and every since they have been evaluated differently.
But I am optimistic concerning Serbia chances. They are by far more talented than a Greek side that shocked Europe in 2004 and won the Euopean championship, and they are an organized tea, defensively oriented but have a great attacking power. They have influential Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic and Atletico Madrid's Mateja Kezman. I personally think that while they are great players, they compliment the crown jewels in the defense in its back four, marshaled by Mladen Krstajic, Goran Gavrancic, Dragutinovic and Manchester United Nemanja Vidic. They allowed one goal in 10 games, only to Raul, and this will come very handy against teams that have their strength in their attack. If Serbia's defense is in form in the tournament, they will neutralize Messi, Robben, Ruud Van Nistelroy and Drogba. They might produce another Greek 2004 run, completing an eastern orthodox sweep of major football tournaments in two years. By the way, is the Ukraine and Czech Republic considered also EO nations ? Not that it is relevant to football, but just out of curiosity.
As for Kezman's display of Christ's icon, I believe he is brave to do so specially in Europe where public display of faith related signs is not welcomed. I assume that being from Serbia and having experienced the turmoil of the past two decades, there is little that can go worse. However, it is nice to see that in football fields.
As for Egypt, they did not qualify and it was no suprise. Football, like any other sport, is an industry that needs management and strategy, and it is almost missing in all venues of life in Egypt since 1952. Sports, in particular, is a very corrupt place in Egypt with few exceptions.
The football confederation cannot keep a coach for more than a year, and sometimes a few months. They hire some very obscure coaching names and when a honest confederation takes the helm, they do not last. The fedeartion hired a former legend in Tardelli , who was a legendary players in Italy's winning side in 1982 but has a very poor coaching record, and he got a ridiculus high salary and sent Egypt out in four games. Once he was replaced by Shehata, a former best African Nation Cup player (1974) and a great coach, for a relatively low salary, Egypt won the African Championship of 2006 for a record fifth time. Ivroy Coast, who qualified to Germany 2006 on our expense, was beaten twice in the way to the championship. Now, the Egyptian confederation is fighting this winning coach and wants to fire him at all costs because he is a man of honor who is not learnt in the dirty tricks of the sport. They want to bring back one of their followers. There is a lot of financial gains in hiring a coach, without going into details.
In such enviornment, no success can be planned. It is mostly coincidental. The local league cannot produce any good environment for players. When you watch some of the refereering errors in the league, you must but question whether they are bribed or not.
Among the African teams that qualified, Ivory Coast and Tunisia have the best teams. However, it is unlikely that Ivory Coast would advance from the group of death. They have Drogba, Chealsea's top attacker and Aruna Coni, and a very disciplined team and experienced coach in Henry Michel, but they have extremely tough foes in Holland, Serbia and Argentina. Could happen, but very unlikely.
Tunisia is another story. They are also a very organized team, an experienced yet young side, have a great coach in Lumierre who won the European championship in 2000 with France, and feature Hatem Tarabulsi , one of the best right backs in the world, Namushi, Bo Azizi, Zairi, and other good players. They have Suaid Arabia in their group, and they can easily take them, and Spain and Ukraine are formidable opponents yet can be dealt with easier than the group of death.
The rest of African teams will probably have some embarassing moments. Ghana has Italy and the Czech Republic in the same group, and both are top teams in Europe. USA is becoming stronger and more organized. Ghana failed to make it past the group stage in the African nations Cup in March, loosing to Nigeria and Zimbabwy. They were without three key players, so it is hard to judge them based on that.
Angola and Togo also failed to make it past the group stage in the same championship, and they have sacked their coaches and managers, and are in a mess just a month before the tournament. They will face France, Portugal, Mexico between them, and I just hope they do not concede many goals.
But african teams are never predictable. Nigeria's 90's team was a star studded team that won the 1996 Gold medal in Atlanta and should have made it at least to the semis in 94 and 98, yet they failed. Algeria in 1982 had a memoriable victory over a brilliant German side, yet lost to a very substandard Austria in the subsequent game. African teams never lacked the talent, they lack the heart and organization to achieve and live to their full potential. The players take the national team as a stage towards playing in Europe, and then it is their last choice to join the national team. Therefore, the seeding based on previous results usually makes names like Togo and Angola qualify, because their opponents who delivered in the past years just lost interest.
Elisha: Btw, where are you located...the UK? Egypt
I used to live in Egypt since the age of nine, but I have relocated to North America some years ago and live between the States and Canada for the time being.
I did not have the chance to visit the UK for a long period, but I wish I can spend some time on the country side in the UK once I have the time and money to do so.
Did you suspect I live in the UK because I am a football fanatic like the English
, or because I use the word "football" instead of "soccer" ? I am not sure why North Americans refer to their rugby like game as football.
. It is neither played by foot nor is it a ball but an ellipsoid.